Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 13
Elvina Pearce presenting three of
her new piano collections for Alfred
Publishing at the 2015 National
Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy.
that was the nearest she ever came to complimenting
me. Need I say that Mme. V. neither fostered my love
of music nor of making it at the piano? Actually,
when I left her studio for the last time, I didn't know
whether I loved or hated music, but I felt sure that I
didn't want to ever go near a piano again!
If you had to do it all over again, would you still
choose to study with her?
Absolutely. And I shall be forever grateful for all that I
learned from her. For instance:
* In technique: I acquired an acute awareness of
the function of every part of my body that was
involved with playing the piano-particularly how
to control the balance of muscular tension and
relaxation. I also learned a technical approach
which was based on beginning tone production
on the keys as opposed to lifting up individual
fingers before striking the keys. The "on-thekey" approach produces a true legato and a
non-percussive sound, both of which are
characteristic of Vengerova's students.
* In approaching a piece: Step one was always
to do a thorough study of its formal structure,
notational symbols, word cues, etc., and Mme.
demanded that, without fail, her students project
all of these in every performance.
* In practicing: I learned a myriad of specific
strategies designed to either prevent or solve
common problems that all pianists must deal
with in practice. (Well, maybe not Lang Lang.)
Speaking of practice strategies, your book includes
pages and pages of tips for achieving success in
practice. Did you learn some of these from Vengerova?
Yes. Nearly 100 pages of the book deal with specific
practice strategies, most of which I learned from her.
Readers may enjoy the following:
Elvina Pearce (2015). The Success Factor in
Piano Teaching: Making Practice Perfect, ed.
Craig Sale. The Frances Clark Center for
Edward Darling, ed. (2005). A Piano
Teacher's Legacy: Selected Writings by
Richard Chronister. The Frances Clark Center
for Keyboard Pedagogy.
Both books are available at